Comet C2022 E3 ZTF

This page covers multiple datasets relative to comet C/2022 E3 ZTF as imaged by Moana in early 2023.

2023-01-13 dataset: Luminance only

On January 13, C/2022 E3 ZTF was bright in the morning sky (around magnitude 9) and well placed for the Northern hemisphere. With a brightening to Mag 7 expected in the weeks to follow, I decided to start practicing acquisition and processing techniques, to be ready once this comet reaches peak luminosity during the end of January 2023 new moon. To make things easy I started with Luminance only. The dataset below is well suited to quickly and easily experiment with comet processing.

The PixInsight tutorial found here was used to process the 90 minutes of luminance dataset provided, resulting in the image below, with the comet & star motion removed.

The 2 tails (dust and plasma) are clearly visible. Plasma tails (the faint thin straight tail at the bottom of the image) follow the path of the solar wind, which travels radially away from the sun. Thus, plasma tails form straight lines behind the comet head following the direction of the solar wind. Dust tails on the other hand are formed of dirt particles. Because the dust particles have more mass than plasma, they retain more of their original momentum. The dust tail tends to be curved and often has a direction slightly different from the plasma tail. The dust tail is clearly visible above the plasma tail here.

2023-01-20 dataset: color

RGB dataset for C2022-E3-ZTF. Condition were suboptimal with a few frames affected by clouds, which in turn messes with focusing and tracking. If you process only one dataset, I would think use the next one (2023-01-21). Processing R, G and B channels independently is 3 times the work, and in my opinion for comet imaging nothing beats a color sensor on a f/2 Rasa or Hyperstar. But here we go for Moana. I may add back the star field if I find the time.

Here is the 2023-01-20 dataset, comet only, using the new PixInsight alignment module.

2023-01-21 dataset: color

RGB dataset for C2022-E3-ZTF. Better weather conditions.

2023-01-21 dataset.

2023-01-22 dataset: color

RGB dataset for C2022-E3-ZTF. Pretty good conditions.

2023-02-16 dataset: color LRGB

RGB dataset for C2022-E3-ZTF. Pretty good conditions. At last I managed to filter change in NINA without triggering autofocus (but still change focuser’s position using filter offsets to keep each color frame in perfect focus). So this allowed me to shoot LRGBLRGB… continuously, 1mn per frame. I processed the image below using RGB only. Having the comet and the stars separated, I removed a prominent diffraction spike at the bottom of the image on the star only image, which made things very easy.

2022 E3 ZTF in RGB on February 16, 2023.

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